Quiet Fire : James Owens

9 - 18 October 2021

A fire dances upon the horizon


Quiet Fire is a new body of work made in 2021 which continues to explore [my] fascination with nature as a symbol for psychological states. In these paintings, plants creep, dance and communicate in hushed tones. They grow in unlikely settings, pushing up through cracks and stretching towards the sun. This world captures nature in its full capacity - toying in flux between splendid growth and brutal death. As a small flower tenderly blossoms, another wilts. A curling tendril soon becomes a parasite. The paintings tread gently upon this balance between strength and weakness, hope and doom. Figures may come together with closeness, but there is a sense that they are protecting each other from something. Similarly, wildflowers appear in glorious full bloom - or perhaps they are fighting against one another for survival. Works which play with weaving painterly abstraction are met by the full force of paintings such as After Courbet's 'Killing a Deer', which freezes the demise of a deer in a savage ballet dance. Nature taunts, and so do people, as shown in Mocked by Drunks, where a chess player, surrounded by others, is isolated in his sobriety. Above all, the works suggest the painter's attempt to grapple with notions of survival in a challenging world - made clearest of all in the titular painting Quiet Fire. In this work, plants blossom and pulse and a newborn is cradled. Meanwhile, a carpet of flames lurks in the background, threatening to engulf the neighbouring paintings into chaos.


- James Owens, 2021


9-18 October 2021

opening 8th October 6-8PM

46 Great Titchfield St, London, W1W 7QA